While the retrograde formalist in me resists the idea of biographies, I do tend to read a lot of them. I’ve got two going right now: Hiding Man, Tracey Daugherty’s biography of Donald Barthelme, and Lady Painter, Patricia Albers’s biography of Joan Mitchell, both of which manage to do the difficult work of “telling” a life quite well.
I also just finished reading two novels—the first, Steve Erickson’s These Dreams of You, weaves among its many threads David Bowie (with whose new album, The Next Day, I’ve lately been obsessed) and Joyce’s Ulysses (which I’ve been teaching this quarter), while the second, Helen Garner’s The Children’s Bach, is just, well, marvelous. With Gatsby fever running wild as of late, I would say that Garner’s book is as great a “short novel” as Fitzgerald’s, and with the exception of maybe Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, I can’t think of a better book about family.
As to poetry, I’ve been reading Lake Superior, a Lorine Niedecker poem that Wave Books recently republished in book form along with her notes, journal entries, and other documents. Niedecker has long been one of my most cherished poets, and reading this edition is like being introduced to her all over again.
I know I’m only supposed to name five books, but shout-outs are due to Jane Gregory’s My Enemies and Paul Killebrew’s Ethical Consciousness, both of which have proved pleasurable and useful to me over the last several weeks.
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